Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This "odd-couple" pairing of tomato and watermelon draws superlatives

As fall as apples and pumpkins and acorn squash and . . . watermelon?

Huge, juicy, ripe watermelons hardly seem as though they are similies for autumn. Who ever saw a watermelon used in a Thanksgiving cornucopia?

Yet that's exactly what our fall garden is producing right now. About a month ago Hubby examined some vines twining around the spent tomato bushes he was about to hack out to make room for his fall plantings. Hiding underneath the curls and twists were some baby watermelons--possibly 10 or 11 of them. At this late date? We'd never grown watermelons before. Planted them, sure, but to no avail.

Hubby remarked that if these happened to produce, which he doubted would happen, this would represent the first time since his childhood that he'd been able to grow watermelons.

Then when the melons did begin to burgeon, more skepticism reigned. Would they actually ever ripen? Would they rot out first? Tenderly, under each of the promising ones, he installed some pieces of wood to keep the moisture away. Even during our recent monsoons the melons held. At least four of them approached the picking stage. But would they be any good? Hubby wondered as the moment of truth arrived.

Cameras flashed at the proud instant in which he actually toted his (well, his and God's) handiwork, a sizable, green-striped melon, into the kitchen and plunked the knife down into it to split it apart. Still doubtful it would taste worth anything, Hubby took the first exploratory bite. A smile of pride slowly crept over every molecule in his face.

"It is good," he pronounced with wonder in his voice. He then kept sampling and sampling.

For this magic moment I had saved just the perfect recipe. The August 2010 issue of Prevention magazine featured Tomato Watermelon Salad. This "Odd Couple" pairing--tomatoes and watermelon, along with fresh mint and pistachios--held a huge fascination for me since I first read it. Tomatoes and watermelon? Oh, well, we're always being reminded that the tomato indeed is a fruit. Truthfully, once this salad was prepared and tossed, one hardly could tell one red bite from another.

"I've said it before, but I mean it this time," Hubby pontificated as he savored. "This is absolutely the best salad I've ever tasted." (I think its containing his home-grown watermelon had something to do with his effusiveness.)

Still about five promising melons remain in the garden. At this rate we'll still be dining on them as we sing "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town."

Tomato Watermelon Salad

4 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups coarsely chopped seedless watermelon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon alt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1 avocado, peeled, halved, seed removed, and sliced into 1/2-inch chunks (optional)

In a serving bowl combine chopped tomatoes and chopped watermelon. Toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and mint. Stir in avocado, if desired. Top with pistachios. Serves 4.

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